- Developing world will have 4 billion in cities by 2030
- Urban flooding is a top worry
- “Compact cities” speed emergency response
- Colombo’s remedy for flash floods: lakes and pumps
COLOMBO, 9 April 2013 (IRIN) – With the world’s mega-cities growing even larger, policymakers – especially those in developing countries – need urban planning that will help these areas withstand the impacts of natural disasters.
The urban population in developing countries is expected to double to four billion people by 2030, from two billion at the start of the century, according to a recent World Bank report on urban planning.
The physical space of these cities is likely to triple in size to 600,000sqkm over the same period, the report revealed, noting that implementing the right planning policies will be “the key to resilient and sustainable development”.
Abhas K. Jha, a World Bank sector manager for urban and disaster risk management in East Asia and the Pacific, based in Washington, DC, told IRIN it is crucial for government officials to build cities’ “resilience” to disaster.
Need risk assessment
“An assessment of the risk levels, a cost-benefit analysis of available interventions, and an inventory of existing capacity and financial resources can guide decision-makers in cities or in national governments in the prioritization of concrete actions,” Jha said.
He added that the first step is to understand risks at the national, regional and city levels.
“We have seen that disasters can wipe out decades of progress, and that [these] impacts can be felt throughout the whole region and globally, too, through supply chains and trade patterns,” said the Bank expert.
O.P. Agrawal, an urban transport specialist and one of the co-authors of the World Bank report, said planning is paramount to avoid hefty disaster-related bills. “The sooner you get into planning cities, even those cities that are already large, the more cost-effective it will be.”
Having a lead agency helps, he said, “to get good urban planning off the ground” so city services know about one another’s plans, urban emergency services are handled more effectively and land use is regulated more easily.
South Asia is home to some of the fastest-growing cities worldwide. Some of the main cities in the region include Dhaka, Bangladesh, which has a population of 13-15 million and is home to 37 percent of the country’s people, and Colombo, Sri Lanka, which has a population of 753,000. Both are the main economic engines of their countries and are prone to natural disasters, with floods being a top threat. Read the rest of this entry »